Old Rag Mountain Loop Trail

HARD 930 reviews
#1 of 138 trails in

Old Rag Mountain Loop Trail is a 8.6 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Syria, Virginia that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

DISTANCE
8.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2417 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

trail running

walking

forest

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

snow

no dogs

This hike is one of the most popular hikes in Shenandoah National Park. It is a challenging hike, but when you make it about 3/4 of the way up, you will then have some rock scrambling that makes your pace a little slower. There are alot of switchbacks, so you will not be going straight up, but the trails are still at a steep grade. The descent, which is a longer distance than the ascent, is a much more gradual grade, ending on a fire trail. This hike begins with a one-mile walk up the road to the original Old Rag parking area (port-a-pots here.) Turn left onto the Ridge Trail and begin your approximate two mile ascent with switchbacks before reaching the boulder scramble section. There are handwritten numbers below the blue trail blazes throughout the trail. You’ll be going up, down, in between, around, and underneath granite boulders throughout the scramble. While going through the boulder scramble, keep your eyes open for the blue blazes, as sometimes they are in the strangest places. If you have a fear of heights, or jumping across crevasses, this will challenge you and encourage you to overcome your fears. When hiking Old Rag Mountain, each time you think you’ve reached the summit – you haven’t! This mountain has several false summits. You’ll know that you’ve reached the Old Rag Summit when you see the Old Rag Mountain brown elevation sign. Find a lovely rock with a fabulous 360 degree view for your lunch spot here, before starting your descent on the back of the mountain by way of the Saddle Trail. Rock hopping down, you’ll pass two shelters. First the Byrds Nest Shelter, then the Old Rag Shelter (privy here) before hitting a cross-roads. Stay to your right to continue back on the Weakley Hollow Fire Road for about four miles to return to the parking lot. This section can seem like it’ll last forever. You will pass through beautiful forests and see Brokenback Run that leads into the Hughes River.

hiking
12 hours ago

My girlfriend and I chose this beast as our third hike in Virginia and it was spectacular! We decided to go clockwise and climb up the most strenuous ridge trail first. It was unlike any hike I've ever done and definitely pushes you on the rock scramble and boulder section, but it was manageable and fun for me (6'2", 260lbs) and her (5'2", 110lbs)...so I'd say as long as you have a strong desire to reach the summit and the ability to "get skinny" on some parts, this hike is a good one for beginner hikers that want to push their skills and endurance!

7 days ago

This was my first hike and a solo one at that. It was awesome!!! The rock scramble did not disappoint this first timer. I’m short (4’11”) and was able to this. Some review said it might be difficult and they were but other hikers were there to help if needed. I did this counter clockwise. Went up the fire road first then hit the scramble. That helped I’m sure as I was able to slide down a lot of the boulders. So if you’re in decent shape and want an exciting solo hike.....THIS WAS GREAT.

hiking
7 days ago

This hike has beautiful views at the top with an amazing breeze to cool down after the uphill. The rock scrambles are very fun and can be easy for some or very difficult depending on your physical shape and comfortability with bouldering/climbing. At a certain point the distance of the hike can definitely be mentally taxing and a motivational killer if fatigued lol. Specially if doing the hike the opposite direction with the weakley hollow fire trail first. Very fun and enjoyable workout. Good luck everyone!

hiking
8 days ago

Damn good hike

hiking
10 days ago

11 days ago

Classic Shenandoah must do hike. Spectacular views at the top. Can’t believe this is in Virginia. Definitely more crowded than most others due to its reputation.

hiking
15 days ago

My very first hike and I chose this monster. Had a wonderful time and was not disappointed with the views.

hiking
17 days ago

I’ve hiked this trail a couple of times and love it! It’s a long trail and starts out fairly easy. The fun stuff happens close to the top - lots of rock scrambles!

20 days ago

Love the rock scrambles. That was extremely fun. The fire road is fairly easy. I ran down afterwards because it was kind of boring. Overall I would consider it as moderate and fun if u can climb on boulders and squeeze through small crevices. Love this hike.

21 days ago

What a great hike and the views were spectacular!

hiking
26 days ago

Hiked this past weekend. I didn't realize what rock scramble meant.. This was the most fun hike I've done and the ice and snow made it really exhilarating at some points. The view was up there with the best in VA as well.

28 days ago

Usually a 5 star hike, ice from the past week made the higher altitude portion really slippery and challenging. Turned around before the scramble parts and had to slide parts of the way down. Saw others do the same. Just posting this so people know what to expect in the late March 2018 timeframe. Usually a wonderful challenge, we will be back when it gets warmer and the snow and ice has a chance to melt.

hiking
28 days ago

Did the loop today and it was spectacular. We had to do a lot of improvising due to ice, but in the spring, summer, fall this trail would be absolutely incredible. I suppose the trade-off was that we didn't have to fight crowds through the rock scramble elements.

1 month ago

My favorite

hiking
1 month ago

My girlfriend and I embarked on this loop last year with some friends. We didn’t quite know what we were getting ourselves into. I had thought we had made it to the top when we reached the outlook where most will have there lunch. Little did I know that was just the beginning of the rock scramble. This loop is challenging and that makes it incredibly fun! I wouldn’t recommend to any beginners unless they go with someone who’s done it before. Not that you’d get lost, but the rock scramble does get challenging, especially for those out of shape. My girlfriend and I love it and will be going back soon.

hiking
1 month ago

I have done this three times, each of the last three years, it is always best in the fall, but doing it in December means less crowds. The loop is a better way to do it, although the distance is closer to 11 miles that way. Going straight up and down means fighting the crowds coming up through the scramble, which is not fun for either direction. If you are doing it in the summer or fall, I strongly recommend avoiding the weekends or starting early. Arriving around 0800 will leave you waiting in lines on the weekend that can stretch for an hour or more at the start of the scramble. This hike is a lot of fun and a real sense of community develops along the way. Not good for pets at the scramble. Make sure to pack a lunch and enjoy the view at the top.

hiking
1 month ago

Amazing hike. The rock scramble is tough but great fun.

hiking
1 month ago

So fun! The scrambling is challenging but fun. Gorgeous in the fall.

hiking
1 month ago

Another great day hike. Took my gf and her son out for the day and had a blast. Heavily trafficked, but you’re still able to find your own space

1 month ago

Great hike. Good difficulty level going up, with interesting rock scramble. Nice walk down the trail to cool down and relax

hiking
1 month ago

One of my favorite hikes to do!! Challenging in a good way!

hiking
1 month ago

This was the most fun trail I’ve done. Getting ready to do again soon. Challenging? Yes. Doable? Most definitely. Just do your due diligence and wear gloves with some traction to help get you up some rocks as many areas are slippery due to the amount of traffic it gets. Also, eat and drink what your body needs before, during and after or else you can cramp up, etc.
Stop and enjoy the scenery. I prefer to start early to avoid most of the crowd.

2 months ago

Excellent and challenging trail for my wife and I ! I'd say it was made much more difficult after the prior night dropped an inch of snow. Areas were icy, which made the rock scramble harder than needed to be but good teamwork saw us pass the test. by far the longer and hardest trail for a couple in early 40s (most everyone we saw easily 10 yrs our junior), but fun and quite rewarding. Awesome views a bonus!

hiking
2 months ago

Fairly slick with some ice and snow on the rocks, but the trail and views were great. Highly recommend!

hiking
2 months ago

I went on this trail with my son's Boy Scout troop in October of 2017. The trail was awesome. Great views and great rock formations. If you don't like boulder hopping then this isn't the trail for you. So pack a lunch and hike to the top and find a spot to enjoy the views and lunch!

2 months ago

Best hike I’ve had so far. Definitely worth going in the off season, hardly any traffic. Went with a group of friends and we definitely built a stronger bond because we used a lot of teamwork due to the obstacles(ice, rain, height difference, experience, etc.)

hiking
2 months ago

Hiked this trail in the rain, which got a little dicey at times, but it was definitely worth it! Because of the weather we only saw only about 4 or 5 other people on the trail the entire day. The downside was that we could hardly see anything from the top of Old Rag due to all the fog, but it was still a really fun hike.

2 months ago

great hike

hiking
2 months ago

Definitely my favorite place I have been hiking. I am 19, 5’7”, and around 180lbs so im not in the best shape, but I have a passion for scrambling. It was 10° when I got there but after about a half hour of hiking I actually needed to remove my hoodie! I see people mentioning the need for significant upper body strength but imo it wasnt really as important as people chalked it up to be. One thing that did cause some problems: My height. There are a few points where you need to scale the face of a boulder and the shorter you are, the harder it is (Though I managed to get by). Another thing that happened was about halfway through the scrambling my calves began to “lock” into place and hurt whenever I plantar flexed (bent foot toes facing down). I had a sports drink with me which reduced the problem in a matter of minutes, so if you arent used to this type of terrain, I highly recommend you bring something with plenty of electrolytes in addition to water. I would say as long as youre prepared, and somewhat in shape (but willing to push yourself), this is a hike worth making the trip for!

hiking
2 months ago

Great trail with some fun rock scrambles. I went up the rocks which was more fun and am sure safer as well when out alone. I like the solitude of trail hiking so did the loop at about 8:30 and took me about 3.5 hours of moving fairly quick and and only saw maybe 12 people. Best getting the popular trails done in the off season. Will definitely be a trail I’ll have friends do as well.

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